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Olivier Coutier-Delgosha Appointed Associate Professor

November 27, 2017

An image of Oliver Coutier-Delgosha

Olivier Coutier-Delgosha has been appointed associate professor in the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering.

Coutier-Delgosha performs research in the area of fluid mechanics, specifically in the area of cavitation, multiphase flows and propulsion. His activities have been focused on the investigation and modeling of the physical mechanisms of unsteady hydrodynamic cavitation, with various naval and aerospace applications. He most recently served as director of Laboratoire de Mecanique de Lille in Lille, France. Prior to that appointment, he was awarded a Fulbright Grant in 2014 and served as a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University in the Mechanical Engineering department.

He graduated from Ecole Nationale Superieure de l'Energie (ENSE), and earned his master's and doctoral degrees from the Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble (INPG). He was appointed assistant professor at Arts et Metiers ParisTech in 2004, then Associate in 2008 and full professor in 2011.

We asked Dr. Coutier-Delgosha to tell us a little bit about how he's settling into the Hokie Nation!

What excites you about joining the AOE department?

This is a big move for me, after 15 years as a Faculty in France. Actually, after I first visited the AOE and Mechanical engineering departments two years ago, I immediately felt like it would be a perfect place for me... difficult to explain why precisely: obviously it is not related to the AOE building (although I love such old buildings), but mainly to the people I met there: often very young, all of them totally involved in their research, but yet interested in my activities. In addition, it looked quite original to have research topics covering both aerospace and ocean engineering, and it was consistent with my own research areas, which were primarily focused on hydrodynamics and multiphase flows in rocket engine propulsion systems. Now I am here, and I confirm that my first feeling was right: although I have been quite busy with teaching preparations in the last weeks, I am very excited with all promising connections and collaborations that I can already see!

What can students expect from you in the classroom?

My primary objective is to let the students progressively understand - thanks to my explanations, but also their own thinking - the physical mechanisms involved in the phenomena I am teaching. Basically, how things work. They must suddenly feel that a whole hidden part of knowledge becomes comprehensible and that it is worth thinking again and again about it, come back and ask questions, until all becomes clear. I still remember my own similar sensation, as an undergraduate student, in front of a professor who was not particularly eloquent, not particularly clear as well, but he was able to provide connections between things that seemed previously apart and moderately understandable. He was my professor of fluid mechanics, and I had no particular inclination for fluid mechanics before then.

I also try to always keep in mind that the guys on the other side are students, learning the basics of mechanical engineering. They can - they must - ask ten times the same question, if they did not get the answer the first nine times, and I strongly recommend them to do so. They are often not used to presenting their work in front of an audience, and even sometimes to write or discuss their results clearly. My objective is to take advantage of the various projects to improve this, and encourage them to develop their writing and verbal skills. Initiation to team work, including learning of leadership and mutual understanding is also in my opinion a crucial point of their education.

What have you found in the New River Valley that you really like or are looking forward to?

I have almost always lived downtown in big cities like Paris or Lille in France, so the experience of a small town is new for us. Living in the woods with quantities of animals out there is really exciting. In addition, we are looking forward to discovering all opportunities of activities and fun in the area. This was really a terrific experience for our kids and for us when we spent one year in Baltimore, MD in 2014, and we have no doubt that it will be the same in the New River Valley community.  

What unique strength do you hope to bring to the department?

I believe that the hydrodynamic lab has become a quite exceptional team with the recent recruitments: we have skills covering multiple disciplines such as propulsion, fluid/structure interactions, naval architecture, and multiphase flows, both in the CFD and experimental sides. I am convinced that it will make the difference for future navy oriented research activities. My double CFD and experimental background, which is still quite unusual, should be helpful in the building of this bright future! In my experience, joined numerical and experimental efforts have systematically been the most efficient way to learn about the physical mechanisms in complex flows or configurations. Collaboration with other disciplines to develop new models or new experimental methods is also in my opinion the best way to achieve outstanding results. The AOE department offers a quite exceptional playground on that level, and I look forward to working with colleagues focused on space science, turbulence, or naval architecture!

What do you like to do outside of work?

I have 4 kids, who fill easily and completely any available time outside of work. We want them to have fun, and we try to provide them a lot of activities and entertainment. In the past, I was a sailor, amateur actor, and tennis player.

Where are you from originally?

I am from France, where I have lived my whole life. I have obtained my degrees in Grenoble, then lived in Paris during my PhD and post-doc, while my wife was an engineer at Electricity of France. Then, I became a faculty at Arts et Metiers Paris Tech, campus of Lille, near the Belgium frontier.

What professional goals do you hope to achieve here at Virginia Tech?

My primary goal is to build a new network in the US and perform a high-quality research. This has also been my objective in France in the last 20 years. In the last 6 years, I have served as deputy head and head of my department, and I am now ready for coming back completely to research and teaching. It has been quite disturbing to interrupt my career and well established industrial collaborations in my home country, and go downscale from Full to Associate Professor, but I already know that addressing new scientific challenges here at Virginia Tech and developing some new collaborations will be even more rewarding. I also want to maintain some connections with my previous University and initiate some opportunities of mobility for undergraduate and graduate students. Virginia Tech and Arts et Metiers ParisTech have both very good rankings in engineering, and I believe it would be beneficial on both sides.

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